Google’s Mayer talks Universal Search, Personalization and the iPhone at SES

MarissaMayergoogle.jpgAt her Keynote Conversation at Search Engine Strategies Show in San Jose today, Marissa Mayer, vice president, search products & user experience at Google, smoothly answered questions ranging from searching video content to Google Sky to her thoughts on Facebook.

Mayer started by discussing universal search, stressing that the company is happy with the results so far and that the system will continue to evolve to include more options. In addition to maps, news, images, video and books search areas, Google will look at adding blogs and scholars search options as well, she said, to help the service have an almost ” encyclopedia” feel to it. She also said that personalized search, although under development for some years now, is still in its infancy and would continue to have an evolving affect on how users search for information and have ads served to them.

“The past few months have been a big leap forward. One thing that I was surprised by is that one thing that can help improve the relevance of search the most is the query that someone just did,” she said, clearly referring to Google’s recent use of behavioral targeting style search results for placing ads. “For search and ads it’s important that they match in the searches that the user has done. We ultimately want there to be parity between the way we match ads and the search results. Because we’re just getting started with the science of personalization, it’s hard to know what variables in the equation will affect it.”

Mayer also pointed out that Google is making the users history of searches transparent to allow them to alter or remove searches to improve the personalization of the service. “You can actually go there and the control element you can actually remove those items from that history and reset the affect of that personal action,” she said.

GoogIphone2.JPGWhen asked about what non-Google related products or companies she was most interested in, she touted Facebook for its open source infrastructure and the method in which it collects social graph information on relationships. She also did her own version of a scene that has happened over and over again with techies and “new product junkies” in recent weeks, she pulled out her iPhone to show off the features of Google Maps and how the device can integrate with the Google Voice Local Search (aka GOOG-411) service.

“It actually sends you an SMS message that has a link to the maps with that results. It’s a great service,” she said, holding up the device for cameras. “I definitely think that the iPhone has illustrated what can happen when you have a full operating system on a computer and the ability to load a Web page without any restraints. We’re eager to partner with people like Apple to get some of our applications preloaded.”

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